How Will The Green Bay Packers Do in 2013?
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers Problems in 2012
The Green Bay Packers once again ended the 2012 football season miserably to the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. I watched most of the first half over the Internet, but mercifully my Internet connection was lost before the 49ers and their quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran all over my Packers with zone-read option plays. The Packers were so embarrassed with this loss that they sent all of their defensive coaches to Texas A&M College to learn how to defend the pistol and zone-read option plays.
Losing to the 49ers was just the tip of the iceberg. Although the Packers finished the 2012 season with a fine 11-5 record, it was obvious that Green Bay wasn't physical enough in losing to the New York Giants, 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay's offensive line left more to be desired in allowing Aaron Rodgers to be sacked numerous times during the season and by not blocking well enough to generate a good running game. The defense was better, but it, too, had its shortcomings in allowing too much rushing yardage.
This hub will examine roster changes during the past 2013 offseason, and then suggest keys for Green Bay success in the 2013 season.
Green Bay Roster Losses in 2013
Immediately following the loss to San Francisco in the playoffs, center Jeff Saturday and wide receiver Donald Driver announced their retirements. This wasn't unexpected because Saturday due to very bad play had already been replaced by Evan Dietrich-Smith during the last few games of the year. Driver's retirement also wasn't a surprise because he had played and contributed very little in 2012.
A few months later the Packers decided not to re-sign wide receiver Greg Jennings, safety Charles Woodson, and inside linebacker Desmond Bishop for the 2013 season. General manager Ted Thompson probably made the decisions not to resign these players for three reasons: one, all of the players cut were back from serious injuries suffered during 2012; two, the money saved from resigning these players was allotted to the long-term contracts recently signed by Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews; and three, Thompson was confident that younger players already on the roster could replace Jennings, Woodson, and Bishop.
The Packers also did not resign tight end Tom Crabtree, inside linebacker D.J. Smith, and outside linebackers Erik Walden and Frank Zombo. Instead, Green Bay signed its only free agent, tight end Mulligan, and has hope that second-year inside linebacker Terrell Manning can replace Smith. Although Erik Walden and Zombo started in the past, The Packers feel that Dezman Moses and other first and second-year players can step in to provide depth.
Players Picked in 2013 College Draft
Packers general manager Ted Thompson has always had the philosophy of drafting and developing his own players in preference to signing free agents. With the exception of the signing of one free agent, Mulligan, 2013 was no different from other years. Going into the April 2013 college draft, the Packers major needs were for the offensive and defensive lines and for running backs. Minor needs were in depth at inside and outside linebacker and at safety.
The Packers addressed the defensive line and running backs need by selecting defensive end Datone Jones from UCLA with its first-round pick, and then getting running back Eddie Lacy from Alabama in the second round. Due to their success and skills in college, Green Bay expects Jones and Lacy to be immediate starters. The Packers were also able to get a versatile running back, Jonathan Franklin out of UCLA in the fourth round.
In satisfying depth needs for the offensive line, Green Bay drafted tackle David Bakhtiari out of Colorado and offensive lineman J.C. Tretter from Cornell.
For defensive depth, the Packers selected outside linebacker Nate Palmer and linebacker Sam Barrington. Defensive end Josh Boyd from Mississippi was selected as a possible nose tackle backup, and cornerback Micah Hyde from Iowa was selected as a physical corner who could be converted into a safety.
Green Bay also built up wide receiver depth by drafting Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey out of Maryland.
Coach McCarthy and general manager Thompson considered it to be a good draft, but we won't know until training camp begins at the end of July of 2013.
Eddie Lacy Highlights 2012-2013
Keys to a Successful 2013 Season
There are six keys to the Packers 2013 season which will either make or break it. They are as follow:
One of the most important keys to the 2013 season is whether the offensive line will be able to better protect Aaron Rodgers and generate a good running game. The Packers were awful in pass protection in 2012 allowing their quarterback to get sacked 3-4 times each game. Green Bay wasn't much better in blocking for a running game since the Packers ranked near the bottom of teams in rushing yardage.
To address these problems, Coach McCarthy has decided to shift right guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Bryan Bulaga to left guard and left tackle respectively. The reasoning for this is that Sitton and Bulaga are the best two linemen and they will be protecting Rodgers' blind side when passing. T.J. Lang and Marshall Newhouse will be moved to right guard and right tackle respectively. The right tackle position hasn't exactly been given to Newhouse, and he will have to earn it in competing against Don Barclay and Derrek Sherrod in training camp.
If the offensive line can limit sacks on Rodgers and generate a running game with Eddie Lacy, Franklin, and other backs, the Packers offense will be much better.
Green Bay Packers 2013 Season Preview
The Packers haven't had a 1,000 yard per season running back since Ryan Grant in 2009. For the past two years, Green Bay's rushing attack has been so anemic that defensive safeties haven't had to come to the line to honor the running game. Instead, they have been able to sit back in Cover 2 and take away the Packers deep passing threat. Green Bay is hoping that with assistance from the offensive line, a rejuvenated running game will be led by college standouts such as Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin.
Stopping the Run
The Packers were victimized by the run and especially the zone-read option in 2012. Green Bay is hoping that defensive end Datone Jones and a healthy Nick Perry will be able to help Clay Matthews in stopping the run. Green Bay will also be experimenting using Mike Neal as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker to stop the zone-read option. For interior defensive line depth and improvement, the Packers have hope that a recently reinstated Johnny Jolly out since 2010, and younger players like Jerel Worthy, Josh Boyd, and Mike Daniels will be of assistance.
Green Bay will also be counting on Datone Jones and Nick Perry to assist Matthews in putting pressure on and sacking the opposing quarterback when he goes back to pass.
Depth at Interior Linebacker
Considering the Packers lack of depth at inside linebacker, it was a surprise that Desmond Bishop was released a few weeks ago. A few months ago another former injured starter at inside linebacker, D.J. Smith, was also released. At the present, there isn't much-proven depth behind the incumbent starters AJ Hawk and Brent Jones. Green Bay is counting on second-year product Terrell Manning who was injured most of 2012 and 2013 draftee Sam Barrington to be replacements. This is a gamble which might not work out for the Packers.
Safety appears as a minor concern for the Packers now that Charles Woodson is no longer around. Green Bay will let MJ Jennings and Jerron McMillan compete for the safety spot opposite the incumbent Morgan Burnett. There is also the possibility that 2013 draftee Micah Hyde could be tried at safety.
Depth in Receiving Corps
Wide receiver depth is also a minor concern for the Packers. Now that Gregg Jennings and Donald Driver are gone, second-year players Jeremy Ross and Jarret Boykins must play more of a role in the offensive. They will be competing in training camp against 2013 draftees Kevin Dorsey and Charles Johnson to win the two positions behind incumbent receivers Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones.
On the surface, the Green Bay Packers in 2013 appear to have a more physical team and greater depth than in 2012. The Packers can't ride Aaron Rodgers arm completely to a successful season; therefore, the key to getting to another Super Bowl will be the play of both the offensive line and the entire defense.
How Will the Packers Do in 2013?
© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn